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A Menu of Hungarian Classics

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This rich, authentic Hungarian meal takes you beyond just goulash.

Hungarian cooking has retained its identity perhaps better than any other cuisine in Eastern Europe, yet its pleasures remain unknown or underrated in the West, outside of our pale interpretations of “goulash.” These very authentic Hungarian dishes will take you beyond goulash and introduce you to the subtleties of refined Hungarian cooking. Don’t be daunted by what look to be long recipes in some cases—the techniques are straightforward, and many of the elements can be prepared in advance. Hungarian cooking is not light and lean by any means, but these rich and complex dishes are perfect for entertaining during the cold months of winter.

Menu Timeline

Up to 1 month ahead:

  • Make and freeze the crêpes.

2 days ahead:

  • Make the soup.
  • Make the filling for the crêpes.

1 day ahead:

  • Make the chicken paprikás.

Up to 8 hours ahead:

  • Fill and fold the crêpes.
  • Make the cucumber salad
  • Make the chocolate sauce base

Just before dinner:

  • Reheat the soup.
  • Reheat the chicken paprikás (in a 350°F oven in a covered casserole).

Just before dessert:

  • Fry the crêpes to warm them.
  • Whip the cream.
  • Finish the chocolate sauce.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 large and 2 medium tomatoes, or 1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 3-lb. whole chicken, or 2 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (such as thighs)
  • 8 oz. thin veal cutlets
  • 2 oz. bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 1 1/4 cups walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 2 Tbs. candied orange peel, or 1 fresh orange for zesting
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate

Pantry Staples

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth (or use homemade)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

Wine Suggestions: The Soup of the Bakony Outlaws can be brought to justice with a medium-bodied red wine with some spice. Cline’s “Ancient Vines,” a California Mourvèdre. has oak and eucalyptus aromas, impressive black fruit flavors, and moderate tannins that provide a deliciously intense foil for the soup. Chicken Paprikás marries perfectly with either white or red wine. Look for a white with intensity to match the creamy richness of the dish as well as crisp acidity to cut that richness, like Hugel’s aromatic, dryGewürztraminer “Jubilee.” Or try a medium-bodied, dry red with mature red-fruit flavors, like the José Sousa from Portugal’s Reguegnos district.The rich, complex crêpes need the drama of a very sweet fortified wine. Try an oft-overlooked choice from Cyprus called Commandaria, deliciously fragrant with cocoa aromas. Pedro Ximénez sherry or a ten-year-old tawny port would work well, too—as would strong, freshly brewed black coffee.    –Steven Kolpan

The Menu

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